It’s completely normal to wonder whether your relationship will last. And there are a lot of different indicators about what makes a strong relationship or a weak one, but we often overlook one of the most basic and obvious tells: how do you spend your time together?
Now, that’s assuming you are spending time together. Because if you disagree on how much time you should be spending, that’s a problem on its own. “If you find that you are constantly negotiating how often you want to be together, it’s not a great sign,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, tells us, “It suggests that there’s a disparity in what you both want this relationship to be. One of you is likely to be pushing for something more serious and the other is likely wanting something very casual. Either option is fine, but the disparity can cause problems.”
So let’s assume that you’re spending an amount of time together that both of you are comfortable with — so what do you have to look for? Well, there are a lot of different signs as to whether or not you’ll make it in the long run. Here’s what you have to look for, based on how you spend time together.
1. You Can Never Decide How To Spend Time Together
You know those days where you get caught in a horrible cycle talking about what restaurant you should go to or if you should see a movie? If that happens too much, it may be a bad indicator for the long term.
“If you have trouble determining how you do want to spend time tighter, it can also be a problem,” Hartsein says. “You can’t expect a partner to have the exact same interests as you do, but if you have very different ways of spending your time and trouble finding common ground, it could be an issue. If one of you is a homebody and the other one always wants to be out socializing, it will likely be an issue!”
Sure, some things you’ll do by yourself and some days you’ll both be indecisive, but figuring out how to spend time together shouldn’t be too stressful. If you never can figure out what to do with your partner, that’s a sign.
2. You’re Distracted
Are you actually in the moment? I’ll give you one guess what the biggest culprit here is — that’s right, phubbing. If you’re snubbing your partner for your phone when you spend time together, it’s not a good sign. In fact, a study of 450 people from Baylor University found that 46 percent had been phubbed by a partner — and 22 percent said it was the primary source of their arguments.
“You might be a phubber if time away from your phone, even for a minute or two, results in serious anxiety,” Jonathan Bennett, relationship/dating coach and owner of The Popular Man, tells us. “You can’t fully focus on the person talking to you because you’re worrying that you’ll miss a text, Instagram post, or that new person viewing your Snapchat story.”
If this sounds like you — or your partner — may be the problem. Now, you don’t need to panic — a lot of us struggle with our phone use, after all — but if you put the phone away and find things strained and awkward, pay attention to that.
3. You Can’t Be Quiet Together
At first, your relationship might feel like fireworks and sparks all the time — and that’s great. But over the long term, a sustainable relationship has to have its exciting moments and its quiet ones.
“Most people feel awkward and fill the silence with non-stop chit-chat or annoying questions,” relationship coach and psychic medium Melinda Carver tells us. “Let’s say you are walking in the woods and resting at a waterfall — if you two can enjoy the moment together silently, you are enjoying a companionable silence.”
If you and your partner are constantly needing to fill that silence, you may not be comfortable enough with each other to make it in the long haul.
4. You Have To Be Attached At The Hip
When you’re out with other people, how needy are you? “I have noticed that those couples that have felt the most comfortable and secure with their partner show it in the form of trust,” dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells us. “This can be seen when you are at a party or event together where your partner is not tracking your every movement, but instead allowing you to do whatever it is that will make you smile without the need to crowd you.”
Sure, you might get very serious about your relationship in the early days, but at some point you both need a sense of independence and autonomy. If you feel like you need to be right at each other’s side, there may be trust or co-dependency issues.
5. You Distract Yourselves From The Big Issues
You should be able to talk about pretty much anything with your partner. If you spend your time together skating around big issues or just in total denial, that’s not a healthy relationship. “One clear sign that your partner feels at ease around you is that they feel comfortable talking about anything with you,” Shlomo Slatkin, who founded the Marriage Restoration Project with his wife, Rivka, tells us.
Make sure that your time together isn’t just burying your head in the sand. If you feel like there a certain things you can’t voice to your partner, that may be a sign that they’re just not the right fit for you.
6. It’s All Work And No Play
How often do you laugh together? If your time together doesn’t involve laughing or letting go, that can be a pretty depressing relationship to maintain. “Give yourself permission to be silly — it’s easy to take relationships way too seriously,” says Bennett. “You don’t always have to be on your best behavior. Sometimes, it’s OK to simply have mindless laughter and goof around with your significant other.” In fact, it’s healthy.
My mom always says if you’re swimming upstream you’re going the wrong way — of course relationships have tricky moments from time to time, but if it always feels like work then maybe you just aren’t a great fit.
7. It’s Just Default Time
Spending time together can come in a lot of forms — and if yours is always default time and never a date night, it may just be that you’re taking each other for granted. “It takes work to keep the romance alive and the couple has to make a conscious decision to put this work in,” Ravid Yosef, dating and relationship coach at LoveLifeTBD.com, tells us. “Schedule regular date nights that do not include your couch or PJs.”
It’s totally natural to spend some time zoning out in the same space — it just shouldn’t be all the time. Sometimes, making the effort can make all the difference.
The way you and your partner interact and spend time together is a good indicator of how things will go in the long haul. But as long as you’re being present, making time for each other, having fun, and communicating, then you should be on the right track.
Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.
My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!
Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!
Instagram: @phicklephilly Facebook: phicklephilly Twitter: @phicklephilly